“Forensic linguistics is the name given to a number of sub-disciplines within
applied linguistics, and which relate to the interface between language, the law
and crime. The range of topics is diverse: from the analysis of confessions to the
language rights of ethnic minorities, from the assessment of threat in a ransom
demand, to determining the genuineness of a suicide note.” (
The study of the language of the law, including the language of legal documents and
the language of the courts, the police, and prisons;
· The alleviation of language-based inequality and disadvantage in the legal system;
· The interchange of ideas and information between the legal and linguistic
· Research into the practice, improvement, and ethics of expert testimony and the
presentation of linguistic evidence, as well as legal interpreting and translation;
· Better public understanding of the interaction between language and the law.
(From the constitution of the IAFL)
Core Areas
Authorship analysis
Phonetic Voice Identification
Investigative Interviewing Techniques
Language in the Courtroom
Protection of the Rights of Vulnerable
Interested Parties:
• Law Enforcement Agencies:
– Interpol
• Civil Rights Activists:
– Unicef
– Red Cross
• Academics:
– Janet Cotterill (Courtroom Discourse, e.g. OJ
Simpson trial)
– Roger Shuy (Concealment of Evidence, political
– ME! (Police Discourse, Investigative Questioning)
• Police Officers/Adjunct Investigators:
– D.S. Kerry Marlowe (Investigative Interviewing)
• Private Consultancy Agencies:
– Forensic Linguistics Institute (John Olsson)
– Institute for Linguistic Evidence (Carole Chaski)
• Expert Witnesses
• Discourse Analysis:
– Written: Court Transcripts (miscarriage of
justice, training of lawyers, etc.)
– Spoken: Maximising effectiveness of:
• Police Interviewing Techniques
• Cross Examination
• Witness Protection

What is linguistics?